The St. Lawrence University women's hockey team dropped its first ECAC Hockey contest of the season on Saturday afternoon to nationally-ranked No. 3 Cornell University in Ithaca, NY by the score of 6-4. First-year student Brooke Webster scored two goals for the Saints, but the Big Red used three power play goals to earn the victory and stay unbeaten at 4-0.
St. Lawrence (2-6, 1-1) was outshot by Cornell (4-0, 2-0) by a 45-25 margin in the contest. Goaltender Carmen MacDonald made 39 saves in the loss, including 32 over the final 40:00 minutes of action, but couldn't slow down the Big Red's offense. Lauren Slebodnick made 21 saves for Cornell, which got a pair of goals and an assist from Jessica Campbell.
"We started strong and finished strong. In between, Cornell played with intensity that we were unable to match," said St. Lawrence head coach Chris Wells. "We had some great chances throughout the game and will be a much better team because of this."
St. Lawrence owned a 1-0 lead at 8:14 of the first period, when senior captain Rylee Smith beat Slebodnick for her third goal of the season, with assists going to Abbey McRae and Margo Lund. However, Cornell rallied in style, scoring back-to-back power play goals only 1:29 apart on St. Lawrence's 8th-ranked penalty kill unit to take a 2-1 cushion into intermission. Jillian Saulnier tied the game at 1-1 at 11:05, while Emily Fulton gave the Big Red the lead at 12:34 to cap the first period scoring.
Though Cornell extended the lead to 3-1 on an unassisted goal by Alyssa Gagliardi at 9:11 of the second, junior Jessica Hon's first of the season pulled St. Lawrence back to within one at 3-2 at 13:28. Kayla Raniwsky, who hit a crossbar earlier in the period, and Ellie Williams assisted on the goal. However, the Big Red would again close the period well, earning their fourth goal at 18:32, Campbell's first of the game, for a 4-2 advantage after two.
Kelly Murray's power play goal only 3:04 into the third period gave Cornell a three-goal cushion at 5-2, with assists going to Hannah Bunton and Taylor Woods. Campbell's second of the game seemingly put it away at 10:21, giving the Big Red a 6-2 lead with 9:39 to play.
St. Lawrence would continue to battle as Webster cashed in twice in a span of 3:15 to close the gap to 6-4. Kailee Heidersbach and Williams assisted on her first goal, while senior captain Mel Desrochers and McRae had helpers on her second tally, a power play goal, with 2:26 to play. Though St. Lawrence would continue to assert consistent pressure on Cornell in the final minutes, Slebodnick would hold the two goal lead intact en route to the 6-4 win.
"Cornell has set the standard the previous four years in our league and they played like they want it to continue," added Coach Wells. "These are always exciting games and this was another on the list."
Cornell finished 3-for-5 on the power play while St. Lawrence was 1-for-3.
St. Lawrence will return to Appleton Arena next weekend for a pair of ECAC Hockey contests against the Yale Bulldogs and Brown Bears. The Saints host Yale on Friday night, November 1, at 7:00pm.